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Self care for a busy mom? Self care with a toddler? What are you smoking … this is what I would think. When I first had munchkin I wanted to be the best mom I could be to her. She was going to be our only baby so I felt I only had one chance to be a good mom. Well especially after getting some help with my postpartum depression I learned I could not ignore self care. I needed to take time for ME so that I could be the best mom possible.
This could be a bath, some time to read, a trip out of the house alone. What ever you need to do to recharge yourself. Once I started doing this I honestly had more patience with munchkin. The other good side to this was it helped give my husband a chance to bond with munchkin. He could also learn how to deal with her. Now in a lot of ways for me, taking a break with a newborn was easier than it is now with a toddler. At the time I did not feel that way but now I do. You see the needs/wants of a baby are simple. They want cuddles, food, clean diaper & sleep. Now with a toddler … nope they want a lot more. They also can be louder about those wants. So here are a few things I have learned.
My Personal Self-Care
So I have a few ways of practicing self-care my favorite when I have time is to take a LONG hot bath, sip on a spiked cup of hot chocolate (usually spiked with Bailey’s Irish Cream) and read a book. When I am short on time I may just do the hot chocolate and/or book. I know when I have been neglecting my self-care because I start to have less and less patience with my toddler. Recently it became evident that I was neglecting my self-care when I snapped and did something that I never wanted to do which is spank my toddler. When pregnant I decided I did NOT want to used that as a form of discipline and the reason I snapped was so stupid. I got so mad at myself for days, I immediately apologized for loosing my temper and spanking her.
I had been focusing on others for the past few weeks and had not been taking care of myself. With my depression I know that self-care can be even more important for my mental health. I took a mental health day from work, dropped my daughter off at my parent’s like normal came home and had my LONG hot bath, spiked hot chocolate and read a book. Here are a few tips for practicing self-care.
I know this can be easier said than done. Especially if you don’t know a lot of people where you live. I am lucky and my husband is pretty hands on when it comes to raising our child. If he is not available or whatever my parents live like 5 min away so grandma will help. Grandma loves to help since this will be her only grandchild. I would have dad take munchkin outside or to the park. This gave me a little bit of time alone. I would use this time to read or take a bath.
Honestly I really respect single parents in general and military families especially when one parent is deployed. I struggle when my husband runs away to go fishing for a couple of days. When he went to CA for his dad’s funeral it was hard. I know it is not the same but it does make me appreciate how much my husband does more. Sometimes I have my husband just take munchkin outside or to a park for an hour. My mom has come over so I can get a nap before work. You can even see about hiring a young teenager who wants babysitting experience. Have them come over for a couple hours to watch your kid while you do self care in the house. Anything to give you a little bit of time for yourself.
Find quick/cheaper alternatives
Do you like to pamper yourself? Before you had a kid did you do spa days? Many times once you have a kid you don’t have the time or the extra money. That is ok you just get to find alternatives to still pamper yourself. I was not huge on doing things like manicures but I did enjoy them occasionally. Once I had munchkin I could not afford to have my nails done unless it was a special occasion. Last time I had my nails professionally done was 2 years ago for my 20 yr class reunion.
Recently I found Color Street and fell in love. If you have never heard of them (they are a newer company) they have 1 product. The sell nail strips made from real nail polish, there is no heat or tools required to put them on. They go on and you are good to go. Finding these were awesome for me. I was able to put these on quickly even my first time (I did them at work) and did not have to worry about drying time.
Finding options like this can help with your self care. Grab some bath salts, a drink of your choice, a good book and/or music and take a hot bath. This is not the same as a spa day but you can make it close. Find a good facial mask, relax in the bath, give yourself a manicure and enjoy. Even if you can’t do this more than once a month you will thank yourself.
Buy yourself something new
Yes you heard me … go shopping for yourself. Many times we get so caught up in providing for our kids we forget about ourselves. Now I am not talking about going on a spending spree. I am talking about buy yourself that new outfit you have been eyeing. Maybe even those shoes that you really want. I think that for my first year and a half as a new mom I did not buy anything at all for myself. Even when people asked me what I wanted for my birthday it was items for munchkin. Even now I find it hard to not just get things for munchkin at my birthday time.
Don’t forget about your friends
You remember your friends from before you had a kid? Ya the ones you have not seen since? Find a little time and go out for coffee with with. Let your partner watch the kid while you and a friend go to a movie. We need to connect with our friends to remember we are more than just a mom. I remember a year ago my best friend and I went to a movie. We had our partners watch the kids (she has a son 1 year older than munchkin). We went to the theater in our area that had reclining seats and watched a chick flick together. Although for self care 1 on 1 time is probably best BUT if that is not an option then get together for a play date. This way you can chat while the kids play.
This is something I struggled with for over a year. I always had an excuse/reason why I could not get together. I did not even want to just hang out and bring munchkin with me because I did not want to carry her up and down the 3 flights of stairs. The whole idea of having to get her ready, climb down the stairs, get her into the car, pack her out so she could hang was not my idea of fun. Let alone doing the opposite but going up 3 flights of stairs. My mom could not come watch her, daddy was not home … really anything. I missed my friends but just could not do it. This is still something that is harder for me but I am getting better.
Self care with a toddler
This concept may be hard to get used to and hard to do but it is really important. With many women suffering from depression after having kids we need to support the idea of self care. We need to encourage each other to take care of ourselves as well as our kids. Do you have a friend who is struggling with self care? Offer to watch her kid for an hour, offer to take her out for coffee. Many women struggle to admit they might be suffering from depression because they are afraid people will judge her. Will think she is not a good mom and that is total BS!
If you are suffering from depression it is completely OK to ask for help. Get on medication if needed, find a good therapist to talk to. Find tools to help you get better not tools to help you hide your depression. Remember admitting you need help is not a sign of weakness. Also this shows your kids that you are also important and have needs. If you don’t know where to start check out online resources like the Postpartum Depression Support Groups in the US & Canada.